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Taking stock of lakes opener on Whidbey

An angler heads to deeper water on Pass Lake in Deception Pass State Park April 19. Only fly fishing is allowed in the lake and no trout may be retained. - Ron Newberry
An angler heads to deeper water on Pass Lake in Deception Pass State Park April 19. Only fly fishing is allowed in the lake and no trout may be retained.
— image credit: Ron Newberry

It’s always the big fish that spike the most interest.

When Dave Whitmer and others with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife travel to different communities with truckloads of trout to unload, it’s often the jumbo-sized trout that draw the most curiosity.

Even on the ferry ride from Mukilteo to Clinton.

“It’s usually the ferry guys asking us where we’re going and if we’re bringing the triploids,” Whitmer said.

Trout fishing kicks into high gear Saturday, April 26, when anglers are allowed to cast their lines and chase freshly-stocked trout in many of the state’s lakes.

Although many waters are open year round, the fourth Saturday in April marks the traditional start of trout fishing in lowland lakes and is regarded as the state’s biggest fishing day of the year, drawing hundreds of thousands of anglers.

On Whidbey Island, where salmon fishing is king, the buzz for trout might not be as audible but the whispers are heard nonetheless.

Especially around this time of year.

“People are already coming in and hanging out and talking about it,” said Bob Crouch, a sporting goods employee at Sebo’s hardware store in Bayview. “A couple people saw the state trucks coming over on the ferry dumping planters. People are already psyched up for it.”

Last week, state hatchery workers dumped more than 8,200 trout into Deer Lake in Clinton, including 208 triploids that average about 1.5 pounds apiece.

The trout population of two Langley lakes also increased significantly from plants earlier this month — Goss Lake got 4,244 additional trout, and Lone Lake received 3,055.

Cranberry Lake, in Deception Pass State Park on North Whidbey, was stocked with 6,600 trout in March.

“My favorite is Goss Lake,” said Crouch, who’s been living and fishing on Whidbey since 1973. “It’s kind of quiet. No gasoline engines are allowed in it. It’s pretty clean and it’s a deep lake.”

Goss and Deer lakes are only open to fishing for six months of the year, starting Saturday. Licensed anglers are allowed to keep five trout per day with no minimum size restrictions.

Some lakes such as Lone Lake and Pass Lake, in Deception Pass State Park, have special rules.

At Lone Lake, only selective gear is allowed and only one trout no smaller than 18 inches may be retained.

Pass Lake’s rules are even more strict. It is a catch-and-release, fly-fishing only lake where motors are prohibited.

Ron Raport of Bothell and his brother-in-law Rob Hauck of Spokane spent Saturday morning fly fishing from their float tubes on Pass Lake. Raport caught and released an 18-inch trout.

The scenic backdrop and big trout lured Raport to Pass Lake.

“It’s beautiful,” he said. “There’s something about this place that’s really cool.”

Kaber Cheney of the Oak Harbor Ace Hardware store said most trout anglers who come to his store are headed north to lakes such as Cranberry, Campbell, Heart or Erie.

“It’s fairly popular,” he said of the area’s trout fishing.

At Sebo’s, shelves are stocked with Power Bait and artificial lures.

“If they’re trolling, some guys will use Flatfish,” Crouch said. “Occasionally, they’ll use Rooster Tails. Green color this time of year is usually pretty hot.”

 

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